Opinion

Beta brands and the Rolling Stones

We often talk about the ‘position’ of a brand, but is the position of a brand still relevant?

My point put simply is this: let’s consider the brand to be not the elements, such as the logo, website, product, etc, but to be the values, beliefs, mission, purpose, behaviour, principles. Of course the brand elements are important but let’s agree that the brand itself is the less tangible; in humanist terms the ‘experience’ that develops through all its stakeholders.

If we use this definition of the brand then we could say that, although of course the brand elements exist spacially, does the brand? Do a brand’s values, beliefs, purpose, etc exist spacially at all or do they only exist temporally? And so if a brand only exists in time should a brand have a static brand ‘position’ at all? Is the definition of a brand as having a ‘position’ helpful, is it suggestive of a rigid, inflexible, set-in-stone entity that inhabits a fixed space?

Using this definition let’s say that a brand only exists in time and not in space. That a brand should not have a fixed ‘position’ as it is always in development, in redefinition. But redefinition by whom? In our networked, digital economy the content and value of brands are increasingly being created by all the stakeholders, and by stakeholders I mean the company, staff, users, etc. We are aware how digital technology has encouraged conversations between a company and its ‘users’, and, importantly, between users themselves. We are also familiar with the agile development of digital products, the learning school process and the increasing value user insight brings to ‘co-created’ content. What technology is facilitating has changed the way businesses can work and develop.

So what makes us think that the old, static model of building a brand still works? A brand is not purely an economic tool created by and for a company.

Societal, cultural and economic environments are constantly changing, and so if a brand is social, cultural and economic shouldn’t it be flexible? Shouldn’t a brand always be open to informed development by all its stakeholders? Maybe we should forget about putting brands in a ‘position’ and instead ensure the focus is on their principles and purpose.

Maybe we should be encouraging flexible, participatory, evolutionary, Beta brands. As Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said recently, “Everybody out there creates an image for you, and you become it”. Or, more accurately: You are always in a state of ‘becoming’.

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